By Shola Adekola | Lagos
TONGUES are presently wagging over the absence of a required taxiway at the Murtala Muhammed local airport for over 10 years.
A taxiway is a hard surface at an airport which is designed for the use of aircraft that are taxiing and are used to connect hangars, runways, terminals and other airport areas.
Access to the taxiway is generally limited to aircraft and support vehicles for safety reasons. In modern airports, taxiways are placed at an angle of 30 degrees to the runway so that aircraft can utilise them to switch from one runway to another quickly.
As important as this component is to seamless flight operations, the one at the Lagos airport has been left redundant for over 10 years.
The huge criticism the absence of the taxiway is generating across the sector has been attributed to the lackadaisical attitude of the government through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) towards critical needs of the sector.
Key players have likened the lukewarm attitude of the relevant aviation authorities to the absence of the airfield lighting systems at the domestic runway 18 Left at the local wing of the airport for 15 years until it was recently fixed.
Commenting on the lapses, a one-time military commandant of the Murtala Muhammed airport, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd.), wondered why despite the weaknesses, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) chose to re-certify the number one gateway airport.
The functionality of the taxiway, according to Ojikutu, would have minimised the problems of delays experienced by airlines during VIP movements as witnessed last week when a Lagos-bound Lufthansa aircraft with over 200 Nigerians onboard was forced to divert to Malabo in Guinea to land before bringing the passengers to the Lagos international airport after three hours.
He said, “The taxiway has been redundant for over 10 years, the same as the runway 18 Left that was just repaired. You will notice an Arik airline aircraft Airbus parked at one of its end; the aircraft too has been there that long.
“You begin to wonder how these airports are getting the NCAA certification and recertification. If the taxiway is serviceable, the problem of delays by the VIP movement can be reduced. Close the 18L to traffic but make it open for the VIP movement within the regulated time. Create a departure and arrival routes for the other traffic for a separable time and distance to the VIP flight as has been argued front and back today. However, FAAN needs to direct resources to the taxiway for appropriate repairs.”
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